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Joey Logano gets into his car to practice for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.
Joey Logano gets into his car to practice for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.|Mike McCarn | Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR: The "Eckel Three" pick The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway — Can Joey Logano repeat?

Mark Eckel

Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, 2:30 p.m.

By Sunday evening there will be just eight drivers left in the chase for 2019 Cup Series title.

Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney, with wins the past two weeks, have already qualified for the Round of Eight. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch have enough points to feel pretty secure as well.

Who will join those five as NASCAR heads toward its final four races of the season? The results of the Hollywood Casino 400 will tell us just that.

Kevin Harvick (+36), who will be starting in 40th place Sunday after his car was disqualified Saturday, Brad Keselowski (+20) and defending champ Joey Logano (+18) currently sit sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

Alex Bowman (-18), Chase Elliott (-22), Clint Bowyer (-24) and William Byron (-27) are on the outside. But a win from any of them is an automatic qualifier and would eliminate one of the current top eight. Keep in mind Elliott won this race last year and has three wins on the season.

Here’s how the Eckel Three, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney see the race unfolding.

Joey Logano (8-1): Two of the three put him on top of their list, while the third had him in his top three. The defending champ knows a win puts in him and might not leave it up to the fate of others. A two-time winner at Kansas, Logano will be driving hard.

Brad Keselowski (8-1): Another two-time winner in Kansas, including the race there earlier this season, Keselowski has been one of the most consistent drivers all season. You know he’ll be in the mix, and he just might get to victory lane.

Kyle Larson (11-1): He’s already qualified, by virtue of his win at Dover two weeks ago, but “Left Turn’’ warned not to leave him out. He qualified well and could just be on one of those rolls.

Chase Elliott (6-1): He needs a big effort to advance and he’s at the right track to make it happen. Not only has Elliott won here three times; he’s been in the top four his last three races here.

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